For many of us we start out in life wanting to be the best parent we can be, and for some of us we don’t want to make the same mistakes that our parents made. We have so many good intentions, and so many ideas, so why when it comes to reality, do things just not go as we would have liked them too? Why do we find ourselves getting angry and upset, when we really don’t want to be? And for some we find ourselves right back at the very place that we didn’t want to be, and asking ourselves, “How did I get here? because I tried my very best to be the best parent that I could be.” For most of us, we know what to do and we know what the experts say and how we should bring up our children. So why is it then, when we are faced with reality and our children, can we simply not stay calm or focused or rational? Why do we become irrational at times when we want to be the perfect parent or at least a parent who can stay calm? Or maybe we are a parent that is so calm, that we have completely shut down from our true feelings.We become passive, continually suppressing our emotions as we have learnt to do from childhood, trapped and lost. Why do we find ourselves repeating the same things to our children, that we many not even like, but we can’t stop ourselves. We can hear the words, but we just can’t stop them. We know we are getting angry and irritated but we just can’t stop the cycle.
Well it is simply something very simple, but very difficult at the same time.
Have you ever found yourself becoming obsessed with your children’s education, and wanting them to do so well beyond all sense, to the point of obsession? Or are you obsessed with your child’s weight? Or do you feel your child is lazy or not motivated? Or maybe you just don’t want your child to turn out liked you. There are many things that can irritate us about our children, or leave us feeling frustrated. I would simply ask you at this point to contemplate what it is that irritates you or makes you angry about yourself? What lies within you? I would like you to ask yourself what do you keep repeating to your children, and they simply can’t hear. Really listen to the words that you are using. Maybe they are not listening to you, or respecting you. Maybe nobody respected and listened to you and your child within is angry for this.
Now I would simply like you to consider this……Maybe your child cannot hear you or respect you, because you cannot listen to yourself or respect yourself. Now I can hear your words, “Of course I can listen, and of course I respect myself.” Now I am sure this is true for the current present moment in the belief that you have, however if your child is not listening to you, then you are simply not listening to yourself, and in turn you are not truly listening to your child. Now here lies the complication.
If you cannot truly understand and listen to yourself, then maybe you have never been truly understood yourself. As a child, did somebody understand you and completely listen? Well if the answer is no, then you will have no understanding of what you have missed as a child and will believe that you have been listened to and you have been respected, and in turn will believe that you have the ability to listen and respect others.
As a child if we are not truly accepted, heard and understood, we learn to suppress our emotions. However they do not go away, they lay in our unconscious mind until the day that someone comes along to trigger these suppressed emotions, to remind us that they are still there, waiting to be heard. We may think we have dealt with our feelings and think we are ok, and we grow up into perfectly functioning adults, so we think, and we go about our daily lives with not too much difficulty, however we may be experiencing many behaviours, such as ocd, excessive alcohol consumption, or excessive eating, or controlling behaviour, that we do not realise is a result of these suppressed emotions and then the day comes that we have children. These wonderful bundles of joy enter in our lives, to bring us love, joy and fulfilment. So why is it when children enter our lives, do we find ourselves consumed with emotion? Many woman may may suffer post natal depression? Many men can feel rejection? And the list goes on as the children grow. They can irritate us, confuse us, and exhaust us. We know in our hearts that we truly want to love them, but at times, we simply just can’t do it. And for some we really don’t even like our children, if we were allowed to say it.
So if we haven’t been truly listened too, loved and accepted how will we know? Well this is the difficult part. We won’t truly know it, because we will never have known what it is like to have been listened to, loved or accepted. If something has not existed in our lives then it is to say we have never experienced it and so we do not know of its existence. We cannot truly know of something that is not in our experience. We may over time come to learn of its existence but we cannot truly know it until it is in our existence and until we have truly experienced it.
So what does this mean? We cannot give what we have not experienced, but how do we truly know if we have or haven’t received this love and understanding. For many of us we grow up in perfectly normal families, unaware that we have not been understood, unaware that we have suppressed childhood emotions, but it is these suppressed emotions that are driving our everyday actions and behaviours and we don’t even know it. For some we spend our lives trying to keep these emotions suppressed through drink, drugs, sex, obsessions, and control, for fear that they will leak out, for the fear of feeling, and this is too great, and then we learn to view ourselves as weak, which is the way we feel society will view us. The tragedy is that most of us don’t even know we are trying to keep our feelings buried. All of us have a child within us that has either been heard or not. Most of us trap our inner child away, for fear of rejection or shame, guilt or just plain badness.
So how do we know if we have suppressed emotions? Well that is really quite simple. When our children are born, they unconsciously remind us of a time in our lives. So for example if your dad died when you were four and there was nobody around to accept your anger and tears for the loss, you will suppress those feelings, and it is then when your child reaches the age of four you will find yourself overwhelmed with feelings of anger or sadness with no idea why. Every time you are with your child you may be repeating words like, “You are not listening to me.” Or “You are making me so angry.” Or “I hate you.” What you may not realise is that these words are the words and emotions that still reside inside of you, suppressed and unspoken and yet every day you may be projecting these words onto your children. You may find that your child is rude or disrespectful, or simply not learning the way you would like. I ask you to consider where these thoughts have originated?
You may find that your perception may come to be that they’re not listening to you but maybe they are and it is just nobody listened to you. When we have been listened to, loved, accepted in every way as a child, then we have the ability to express our emotions freely and they are not stored up for later life, where they get projected onto our children. Were you constantly told you weren’t good enough? Or maybe you weren’t told this but felt it in some way. This belief system that has been set up is then projected onto your own child. Now it won’t be in the form of telling them that they are not good enough, because of course you will be mindful of this and probably tell them all the time that they are wonderful. However it is this constant praise that will give them the message that they cannot trust themselves and therefore are not good enough. Your child will also experience your feelings of not feeling good enough in other ways in their life. You may want them to be good academically or good looking, or dress well or well mannered or to behave in a certain way, and it will be all these non verbal clues that will communicate this to your child. So it is not until you feel good enough about yourself, that your child will too.
For so many of us we simply don’t know what our childhood held for us. Some of us have few memories or feelings. They are however still within us and are held within our bodies. I know this sounds strange, but if we have not truly processed our emotions they will be held within the body, and when we experience a trigger, our body reacts. Let’s say you had a father who shouted a lot when you were a baby, and you may not remember it, but your body will, and every time you come across somebody who shouts in the same way or has the same look or smell as your father, you will react unconsciously. You may want to run away from this person or you may want to fight them.. However what happens when this person is our child? What happens when our child gets angry? We can find ourselves getting very angry, as a body response to our suppressed emotion. So how does this feel for our children? Well it tells them that we are unable to accept their anger and to understand it. They learn they are wrong to express themselves and so learn to suppress it, and feel shame and guilt and the cycle continues. So how do we learn to help our children express their anger and their emotions safely, and to be able to truly hear them?
It’s funny how as young vulnerable children we learn to believe everything our parents tell us. We believe them if they tell us we are naughty or wrong or bad, or ugly, but as children we are not wise enough to know that our parents are simply talking about themselves and what they believe for themselves. We do not have this wisdom as a young child and therefore take everything as our own.
We continue to wear this cloak into adulthood, until we meet somebody else who is wise enough to show us that this cloak of projections does not belong to us.
As children we have to learn to forgive ourselves for this ignorance for we are not to know or understand that our parents will deceive us, we come only to know trust and love and to believe everything until we learn mistrust.